Mark Slater’s Weblog

Musings about work, life, and all things in between



we are almost there…..

Filed under: social media, Uncategorized

At the intersection of location, time and purchase

We’ve seen two distinct trends emerge over the last 2 years or so. your phone knows where you are (location) and depending upon the action you take (checking in etc) can timestamp this position. But this is truly where these services stop. The gulf between the location/timestamp combination and the purchase goal is vast. Its vast because these services have misunderstood that both location and time are a ‘means’ to an end, and not the end.

take Foursquare. They overlay a location instance with a rather neat timestamping tool called checking in. the reason i refer to this as a timestamp rather than some other description is that it is the the combination of time and location, that aims to drive the world of opportunity associated with the service. Some might argue that their is value in this social graph – the accumulation of time/location check ins has some derived cumulative value in the form of a virtual currency ( in their instance a badge) but i place this firmly in the fad bucket and this is why.

the “end” as opposed to the “means” to all of this in my view is a purchase of something. i want to be able to say i am hear at this location at this time and i am looking for XXXXX. Not, i am here at this location at this time and i am interested in where you are, what this place is like, and how big my crown is. Because i have already discovered my city, and i really don’t care for a badge. you see if i want to know about a place – i tap in to the curated web. there are milliions of ways for me to do this today. If i want to know where my friends are i can call them, and do i really need to go somewhere because it looks really popular or crowded? these are all nice pieces of information – but they are really a means to something as my primary concern is that i have decided to do something or buy something and i want to engage with the appropriate selling universe in real-time so that i can make my decision.

i am looking to eat italian tonight with 3 friends
i need a baby sitter
i want to go clubbing, or golfing or on and on and on with examples

and i want an audience of merchants to respond to me in 140 characters and tell me why i should buy from them, and why i should tell my friends that i bought from them.

i dont want curated discovery and review – or even curated recommendation – i want to find out whats in it for me to do what i want to do – and i want a real merchant to tell me so.

i want responses from real people, who want my business – not from a proxy of stored coupons. I want to control my universe of merchants so that i can build relationships – i only want to consider others if a friend reccomends and so on….

See this is the “end” and not the “means”. and i know that merchants will pay for my custom. they’ll pay all day. they can get new business using 140 characters and they can get new customers within minutes – and only pay when they do.

UPDATE: it turns out that some others are thinking of this and are coining the phrase THE INTEREST GRAPH

Getabl has the opportunity to be the onramp to this graph. =- very exciting.

Filed under: Geolocation and RFID, going out in boston, social media, Uncategorized

the discussion around “in-stream” advertizing and promoted tweets

I am not a huge fan of twitter. Its just not my thing. I have never really derived any value from it personally. Of course there are hundreds of millions who will counter – and thats fine. i just don’t derive the same value that’s all.

It does get a little more interesting to me though when the discussion focuses in on some of the commercial permutations of this “stream”. Companies like aim to capitalize on the stream by a sponsored recommendation service. Something like – we will pay you to tell your friend that you liked our shoes.

that’s shaky ground.

Firstly – the fact that the message comes from a trusted source (example my wife) has no correlation to its authenticity and its shocking to me that this has been missed. If anything there is negative correlation. it is designed purely to attempt to insert a push based advertising model in to a new form of communication. Not only am i NOT happy that a friend leveraged our connection to let the wolves in, but i am incensed that push is looking to establish a foothold in a new web layer.

The fact of the matter is that in my world, Push is dead. i simply dont want to receive anything i did not ask for or have not been recommended, free and clear of commercial distortions.

This is what i do want:

i want to express an interest, and receive commercial propositions that best match that (by location, friends etc etc). The beautiful thing about the web today is that it is truly a synchronous medium.

People can ask and express now, they are not just receiving and responding.

This is a very important but subtle transfer of power : I initiate (and not just a check in either – thats just silly) and the web reacts.

At the end of the day the only game i want to play is one that saves me money, gets me things and makes me feel a bit warm and fuzzy in the process. and I don’t mind some of my close friends seeing this but not the entire schoolyard. I want a direct relationship with the merchants i choose to commerce with. these will likely be small ones, local ones, single owner type shops – i want to avoid mcfashion, and big box if i can.

…and i want all this in my pocket.

I want Merchants responding to my indications of interest, in real-time, from their devices. its a new way of conducting commerce for both me and them – its one that fits with all my needs and more importantly excludes those distortions that seek to drag us back to old school brand equity tactics and horrible unwanted bombardment of irrelevant messages. Most important though – its a method that gives the small guy an opportunity to acquire new business in a free and frictionless way. It allows him to react to dramatic swings in business on the fly, and to build small, tight but meaningful relationships with his custom.

we’ve called it GETSMS and its about to launch

Filed under: Geolocation and RFID, social media

Google Buzz is amazing

just tried it on my iphone – this tool is absolutely amazing – if you are a gmail user its a must.

Filed under: Geolocation and RFID, social media

bailout of the newspapers

Printing press from 1811, photographed in Muni...
Image via Wikipedia

what a joke.

this article this morning got me going

Look i am sympathetic to those employees who are facing displacement, and loss of lifetime guarantees (;)) but lets face facts. the economics of the distribution model for newspapers are broken. its simple – people are consuming their news online.

But now we have to suffer through comments from this crook Kerry:

Washington Times has the quote: “America’s newspapers are struggling to survive, and while there will be serious consequences in terms of the lives and financial security of the employees involved, including hundreds at the Globe, there will also be serious consequences for our democracy where diversity of opinion and strong debate are paramount.”

last i checked, our democracy is alive and thriving across the millions of blogs and more professional journalistic digital epicenters including the online home of all those papers that are threatened. To make the argument that the extinction of a paper will threaten the freedom of the press is absurd. What is being extinguished is HOW you deliver, not WHAT you deliver.

juxtapose this with our favorite pandering pay for hire politicians that will soapbox their way to some type of systemic risk argument associated with the demise of the paper, and you begin to get a much clearer picture of the problems with our democracy.

And we didn’t vote for you so that you could represent a vested interest in Washington. Market economics should be the only barometer that decides the fate of the globe. Just because your generation ‘surfs’ rarely doesn’t mean you have to impose your printing press on us. our press is called wordpress, and it atomizes and prints news and opinion that i get to consume from all over the world. our version of freedom of speech is digital and more powerful than yours to a significant exponent.

The new world order is about millions of opinions – accessible instantaneously – not just yours. I’ve said this before – you have a choice. Join the conversation, and adjust your business model with the times (IE furlow your printing presses – see car companies and dealers, or music labels if you want to know what is coming next) or die.

Next up on deck. (take your pick)

– Television

– consumer finance

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Filed under: social media, the economy

Radiohead and the RIAA

Radiohead - In LEGO
Image by woordenaar via Flickr

i am a huge music lover. i spend hours and hours a week – whether on a plane or working on a spreadsheet or at the gym discovering, sharing and listening to music. I have been a highly interested spectator to the industry over the last decade, and i have strong opinions about artist rights, and the internet at large.

so it came as no surprise that i stumbled upon this article this morning claiming that Radiohead are taking the stand against the RIAA. To be sure, the internet has disintermediated large swaths of the music value chain and it is still not clear to me how the artist community replaces its revenue stream. I personally think that the industry is going through permanent and tectonic change.

What i do know is that the organization known as the RIAA is a parasite. they neither represent the true interests of the artist nor those of the industry at large – they are litigating an extinct business model, they are suing their own customers (name another industry doing this) and they need to go away.

the future of music lies in discovery, sharing and experiencing using a new set of tools. the future has no place for them as distribution – the very business they monopolized and exploited for several decades – has imploded and no longer can be controlled.

Update: Just received this gem – worth a watch if you have the time

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Filed under: going out in boston, social media, , ,

Twitter, for twits?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

a word rarely used here in the US is the word ‘twit’ – wiki defines it as

“A British slang word for an insignificant, foolish or annoying person.”

its somewhat ironic the social tool of the month is twitter. I ‘tweet’ here in this blog – its over to the right and i tweet under concavesports. i frankly don’t get it. i have debated this with some of the investors in the past. Well i cam across this little gem this morning. If you, like me are struggling with the use of twitter you might find this helpful

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Filed under: social media, Uncategorized

interesting facebook topic over at AVC

Are you on facebook? is there information that you would like to share with some, but don’t want to put it on facebook as it is too ‘public’?

i think this may be a trend that will continue to occur – when you begin to want to really share geolocation based information – this will likely be with a closer or more tightly defined social set.

Geolocation will become increasingly more important because there is a huge amount of value at the cross section of time, location, and action.

the problem is that GPS wont ever get us there. Neither will WIFI.

There is also the privacy paradigm that this subject touches upon. Kurzwiel said that there is no such thing as privacy – we all are increasingly living a life of publicness – but we must always be able to control WHAT we want to share, and the next huge hairy business idea is the one that combines all these, and brings the contributors of the data bits in to the ecosystem as benefactors of the platform.

Originally posted as a comment by markslater on A VC using Disqus.

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Filed under: social media, Uncategorized,

Delta WIFI at 30,000 feet

Testing out the new WIFI service on Delta – pretty smooth – wonder where it geolocates me though?

Filed under: social media

Last.Fm, the RIAA and Techcrunch

Sunday i woke to find an article written by Eric Schonfeld about an apparent mix up with U2’s latest album due for release at the beginning of March. A copy apparently found its way on to Bittorrent and went racing across the web unchecked. the story gets really interesting when more rumors start to circulate about the RIAA allegedly requesting ‘scrobbling’ data from Last FM.

Scrobbling for those that dont know – is a neat little plug-in that sits in the background of your music player and records (meta) what you are listening to – passing this information to its web applications, where you can share your listening habits with others. Additionally, the web app can make reccomendations of similar music resulting from its analysis of your listening habits.

An unintended outcome of this relationship between you and, is that they can see what  you are listening to. If it happens to be a u2 track that has not yet been released, and this type of information falls in to the hands of the RIAA, well – not good.

What is also not good is that this has made tracks around the web – and inspite of what i believe is the ‘strong denial’ of the release of any data to the RIAA  by stakeholders at, the story continues to mushroom with users beginning to seriously consider un-installing the plug in. This would be deadly for as the plug in is the anchor of their service and frankly their value – a value last measured by their sale to CBS for an utterly mind boggling $282 million

If this user erosion gains traction – as it most easily can – an unintended consequence of frictionless business models is the ease of churn – and the data reportedly was NOT handed over – then the media nad the bloggers have succeeded in damaging a business becuase they have alerted the consumer to the ‘possibility’ of such action in the future. Which leads us to the facebook fracas last week over their attempts to change the TOC.

Net, Net here is – if you are contributing to the web – as people are doing now in unprecedented numbers – you might want to think long and hard about what it is your are giving away for free, and what the consequences may well be of this.

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Filed under: social media, , ,

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